28th June 1917

From 7am the usual round of P.T., bayonet work on the sacks and ‘bombing’ continued for five hours without a break.  The throwing of hand grenades was a cunningly planned exercise guaranteed to provide the necessary incentive to maximise effort.  Two teams faced each other at a carefully judged distance of thirty yards.  At the word of command everyone let fly at their opposite numbers.  There were no rules to the game and thereafter it was every man for himself.  The heavy missiles flew through the air at all angles.  Self-preservation demanded a quick eye and fleetness of foot and a fighting spirit.  Fortunately the grenades were not live otherwise the damage to personnel would have been great, as it was we thoroughly enjoyed it.

In front of the ruins of the Town Hall of Achicourt the Battalion , dressed in clean fatigue, was drawn up on parade.  Spit and polish was called for and the presence in the Square of the large Foden Steam Wagon, together with several ancillary boilers on wheels had the troops puzzled until, with one accord, they were ordered to strip – ‘Operation De-louse’ had commenced.  In happier times the sight of several hundred bodies lined up in a complete state of nature would have been a fantastic spectacle for the worthy citizens of their ancient and, no doubt, dignified town but they had long since departed and we, if not they, were spared much embarrassment.

Every stitch of clothing was removed and each bundle tied with string to which were attached our identity discs.  The bundles were then thrown into the steam chambers and, cold and miserable, we waited interminably for the Army Launderette to discharge our particular consignment.  However it was all in a good cause and we consoled ourselves with the prospect of being clean and wholesome once again.  We opened our bundles joyfully anticipating the sight of massive slaughter.  The treatment must have been intense for the moulded black buttons on crumpled uniform jackets had not only lost all trace of the regimental crest but were misshapen lumps of ebonite.  The coarse woollen vest and pants were examined but there were no corpses.  The families which had attended on us for their food and lodging over the past months were still with us, a little excited perhaps and hungry, otherwise they appeared as happy as Larry and thereafter continued to thrive.

7am physical, musketry, etc.
Bombing - 30 yards.
Afternoon, clothes fumigated by Foden tractor.

Original diary entry
Original journal notes